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Updated on March 28, 2015

"My Anorexia Causes Death" -Isabelle Caro.

The woman in the images is Isabelle Caro an ex model suffering from anorexia for the past 15 years. Isabelle who weights 31 kilos at a height of 1.65 metres (5 ft 5 in) , appears now on the Italian streets on billboards and on magazines as Milan holds its fashion week.

Isabelle Caro advertising campaign "No Anorexia"

Photography: Photo by Oliviero Toscani
Photography: Photo by Oliviero Toscani

The controversy

Isabelle Caro, 27 years old, weights 31kg (4st 12lb). Isabelle appears naked on billboards in an effort to raise awareness of anorexia as an illness, but also to promote fashion label No-li-ta. This has caused the outrage of people such as the head of the Italian Association for the Study of Anorexia as they claim that the campaign might have the opposite effect and it might be promoting an emaciated look on young girls. The fear is that young girls will try to compete to achieve Isabelle's appearance, portrayed by controversial photographer Oliviero Toscani.


Fashion and Anorexia

The fashion industry was under a spotlight over anorexia, after 21-year-old Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston, died from it in 2006.

Anorexia as a form of control

Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa
Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa

"a history of women's food-refusal dating back as far as the sixteenth century. Here is a tableau of female self-denial: medieval martyrs who used starvation to demonstrate religious devotion"


More than 60% of Models have been asked by their agencies to lose weight.

A 2012 fashion industry survey conducted by Model Alliance resulted in 64.1 percent of models saying they had been asked by their agencies to lose weight (the Alliance sent an anonymous online survey to 241 working models, and only 85 responded)

Fashion and Anorexia in Europe

In Italy, the organisers of the Milan Fashion Week support the No-Anorexia campaign. And, despite claiming that fashion is not to blame for the increase in the disease, last year Milan and Madrid fashion shows already started banning extremely thin girls from their catwalks as part of a new code of conduct.

In London, recommendation to combat the "size zero" phenomenon includes barring models under 16 years old from the catwalk and requiring models to pass medical checks.

Among Spain's measures to combat anorexia, last year the Cibeles catwalk started banning models who did not reach a body mass around 18%. That is to say that for a model 1.75 cm tall she had to weight at least 56 kg. The Spanish government has also shut down ‘pro-anorexia' websites and the Health Minister is inviting women to undergo body scans so the new shop-window dummies reflect real women shapes. The data gathered from the scans is also planned to be used for designing clothes, and already major Spanish fashion names have agreed to get rid of mannequins less than a European size 38 (a 10 in UK terms).

In Andalucia (southern Spain) now, shops are banned from displaying clothes less than a size 38 to avoid women feeling inappropriate. I wish I had seen that when I was there a few years ago. I remember feeling very bad because after my second child I could not find anything fashionable that fitted me! Most clothes in high street stores such as Zara, Mango, or Bershka were made for smaller sizes, despite most women being larger. The Andalucian silhouette is full on the hips and clothes did not reflect that at all. Maybe now not only Andalucian women but also all the thousands of British women who go to the Costa del Sol for their holidays will feel better when shopping!

Do You Think I'm Fat?

Dangers of being extremely thin

Extreme weight loss has many risks for the body. Among the best known are:

  • Low blood pressure

  • Abnormal cardiac rhythm

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Low blood levels of potassium, sodium and blood glucose

  • Changes to bone structure eventually leading to osteoporosis in later age.

  • Reduced thyroid function.

  • Low body temperature.

  • Insomnia.

  • Intellectual power affected.

  • Eventual social isolation and withdrawal

  • Collapse and in extreme cases death.

Toscani's controvesial No-anorexia campaign

Once again, photographer Oliviero Toscani known for his controversial work on Benetton campaigns has shocked the world with his images. This time with the support of No-li-ta an Italian clothes brand and the Italian Health Board, Toscani denounces the gravity of anorexia. The advert which coincides with Milan's fashion week has been supported by leading names in fashion such as Dolce and Gabbana and Giorgio Armani. But if the campaign has the aproval of Italian authorities, in France the campaign has been branded as 'too shocking' and therefore not recommended.

Toscani's controvesial campaign

Body Image

The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks (New Harbinger Workbooks)
The Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks (New Harbinger Workbooks)

The eight-step program developed by Thomas Cash shows readers how to evaluate a negative body image, change self-defeating "private body talk, " and create a more pleasurable, affirming relationship with the body.


Isabelle Caro the Face of Anorexia, Died at 28

Isabelle Caro, a French model who became a symbol of the fight against anorexia when she was photographed naked for a controversial advertising campaign, has died at the age of 28
Isabelle Caro, a French model who became a symbol of the fight against anorexia when she was photographed naked for a controversial advertising campaign, has died at the age of 28 | Source

Isabelle Caro's book

La petite fille qui ne voulait pas grossir

"The little girl who did not want to put on weight". A book by Isabelle Caro, testimony of her battle against anorexia. A poignant account of her condition which started when she was 12 years old.

Isabelle Caro's latest news

Isabelle Caro died on 17 November 2010 in France, after spending about two weeks in hospital with acute respiratory disease. The real cause of her death is unknown, although was probably as a result of immunodeficiency due to anorexia.

"I think it is so important that a high-profile death remind us of all of the less high-profile people who are struggling and dying," said Cynthia Bulik, director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Recovering from Anorexia

Long-term follow-up shows recovery rates ranging from 44% to 76%, with prolonged recovery time (57 to 59 months).

Mortality (up to 20%) is primarily from cardiac arrest or suicide.

© 2008 Wendy Iturrizaga


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    • profile image

      mumtaz hussain 

      8 years ago

      Princessa 13 months ago

      DeBorrah K. Ogans: thanks for your comment. Thankfully I do not suffer from anorexia. I have had a few issues with eating disorders but never degenerated in anorexia. However, i feel that information is one of the main ways to stop more women falling into this problem.

    • brandyBachmann profile image


      9 years ago

      The pictures of these women are troublesome. Many people, mostly women, does everything just to get thin. But in this case,it is too much. This hub is informative and let us also help those people suffering from this eating disorder.

    • sudeep13582 profile image


      9 years ago from Howrah

      people should think of it and should show some humanity

    • Sara Algoe profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Ariz

      great work..

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      DeBorrah K. Ogans: thanks for your comment. Thankfully I do not suffer from anorexia. I have had a few issues with eating disorders but never degenerated in anorexia. However, i feel that information is one of the main ways to stop more women falling into this problem.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      9 years ago


      This is an excellent hub! Very sad yet very true and quite informative! Wonderful job on a very serious subject! Please get help if you are anorexic!


    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      10 years ago from France

      Doc Rich: thanks for commenting.

      terenceyap07 : Yes anorexia is a serious problem that seems to be spreading to youger age groups to both men and women alike.

      Jerilee Wei: I think that is the bottom line of anorexia. It is not much about fashion but about CONTROL. Controlling what you eat, controlling your shape, controlling your body and even controling the people around you with your attitude.

      It is very important to recognize an anorexic child; most parents (like you have experienced) prefer to go on denial. It was great that you were able to identify the issue with your step-daughter and offer your support.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      10 years ago from United States

      Ever timely great hub and topic! Anorexia goes hand-in-hand with poor self-esteem in girls and women. I had a step-daughter who came to my home with anorexia and her natural parents were very much in denial. This was back in the 1980s and I went through living hell fighting this with this child who finally won her battle. We found that it had a lot to do with both self esteem and with "control."

    • terenceyap07 profile image


      10 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you for this hub, Princessa.

      Anorexia Nervosa is indeed a serious problem for even teens these days. It seems that the demands of keeping in fashion from the days of Twiggy are far from over. This hub is truly a public service.

      Thank you again, my friend.

    • Doc Rich profile image

      Doc Rich 

      11 years ago

      Princessa, You've done an excellent job of research and presentation of so many of the issues that shed light on this ailment. Thanks very much for this serious and worthwhile Hub.

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Rusty Green: Two months after your comment and tonight I have seen Isabelle Caro on French TV. Finally the campaign has hit France and tonight she was promoting her book, telling about her fight against anorexia. Hopefully, this will help bring awareness to the problem in France.

    • Rusty Green profile image

      Rusty Green 

      11 years ago

      Hi Princessa:

      When you wrote this hub, I hadn't even heard of Hubpages, so you are going to see a lot of late comments from me as time permits and I read your hubs. I am going to join your fan club because I want to be made aware when you write another hub.

      You obviously do your homework when writing your hubs, and I like that. I also noticed that you wrote a hub on male anorexia. Bravo! This is a very important issue and one that should be in the forefront of people's consciousness.

      The billboard Ad, like you said, may neither help nor hinder anorexia, but it certainly brought an awareness to the problem, and in my view, that is exactly what we need. I was kind of surprised by your last sentence, " France the campaign has been branded as 'too shocking' and therefore not recommended." That was shocking! :)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Griffo: Your psychologist's opinion is very interesting, and he might be right. Scaring sufferers is not the answer to help them into recovery. But I believe that these campaigns do bring awareness into the issue.

      Each individual is unique and needs to find their own motivations to get better. I hope you find yours and recover. It is not easy, but you are already on the way ... keep going and please feel free to pop in and let us know how you are doing. Good luck!

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      RFox and Spring curl: I am not sure whether this campaign helps or hinders stop anorexia, probably neither. But I think that the important thing is that it forces us to see the problem to all of us that were not aware of it. It makes us talk about it and it might even put pressure on health providers to address the issue.

      Zsuszy: Thanks for your comment. Yes, it is shocking what we can do to ourselves.

      Griffo: I have just finished another hub on male anorexia. I hope it helps people become aware that it affects to both, men and women. Maybe being aware of it, will be able to help our loved ones sooner and also be more understanding with them.

    • Griffo profile image


      11 years ago

      Shock campaigns for anorexia...hmm, i'm not sure. I spoke to the psychologist that i see about me looking at the really bad things about it and to try scare myself into getting better.

      He was really against it though as scaring yourself into doing it could only make it a temporary thing and will have a greater chance of a relapse.

      You need to come to the descision to do it yourself and you need to find something you want to achieve and set short-term goals about something that means more to you than the illness itself.

      It's easy for me to say that though...but i'm still finding it really difficult myself.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Such a terrible condition. I think a shock campaign could work though - it has certainly had an impact on other health issues, but I guess time will tell if it has any impact on anorexia.

    • Griffo profile image


      11 years ago

      "One of the biggest problems with eating disorders or weight problems is that a lot of Doctors still in this day and age don't take you seriously. Even when you go to them for help. For anorexics who don't want help it's even harder for their families."

      Hit the nail right on the head there. At first i was really patronised and got the whole "you're a sensible guy, now go sort yourself out". A few weeks later and another 14lbs lost, i went WITH my parents..which swayed it and got me referred.

      It really is harder for the families...they're more worried about me than i am! But that's what it's about i guess.

      I've been seeing a psychologist for nearly two months though now, and i actually like it and we're already starting to get somewhere. I'll be going for a long while probably..but it takes time and that's what families have to understand.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      11 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Princessa! As always you produced a great hub. It is just too shocking what a so much "sought-after image" can do to the mind.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great hub as always Princessa! This is such an important topic. I don't know if this billboard helps or hinders efforts to stop the anorexic trend that has taken over the world. I know it's good to talk about and about time that people are taking these issues seriously.

      Griffo: I know your pain when it comes to Doctors. I have a chronic illness/genetic disorder (still being diagnosed) that has caused me to be underweight my whole life. When I was 19 I could not keep weight on and got to a dangerously low number. I went to the Doctor to ask for help in putting on weight. (I am 5'10 and maybe weighed 55kg at the time.) His response to me was "wait until you're 26, your metabolism will slow down or get pregnant". He then went on to tell me to eat more spinach!

      Needless to say I found someone else to help me.

      One of the biggest problems with eating disorders or weight problems is that a lot of Doctors still in this day and age don't take you seriously. Even when you go to them for help. For anorexics who don't want help it's even harder for their families.

      That's why education about this stuff is so important!

      Glad you didn't take no for answer Griffo! :)

    • Princessa profile imageAUTHOR

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      11 years ago from France

      Michelle: Thanks, and I hope this helps show the dangers of anorexia to your daughters and in turn to your daughters' friends.

      Highwaystar and Griffo: thanks for the remainder. It is true that when we talk about anorexia we usually concentrate on women and girls, but unfortunately it is a disease that affects both genders.

      Bonnie: Yes it is time that WE ALL stop promoting extreme thinness. There is not only the fashion world to blame for the 'tyranny of size 0' but each of us is responsible one way or another.

      Icandy, thanks for the comment and lets hope that more and more people becomes aware of the problem.

      Griffo: Very courageous of you to admit your problem and look for help. All the best for the future.

    • Griffo profile image


      11 years ago

      Really nice hub. I have been suffering with Anorexia myself for the past 3 years and have just started getting help for it. So DOES EFFECT MALES. People need to be more aware of this...when i first visited the doctor they tried to push me away and didn't take much notice...i feel this was probably down to my gender.

    • icandy profile image


      11 years ago

      I agree your hub is very well done, people need to be aware of this problem.

    • Bonnie Ramsey profile image

      Bonnie Ramsey 

      11 years ago from United States

      Excellent Hub! I think it is high time that people stop promoting this type of behavior in young adults and teens. I believe this is the direct result of the effects that the fashion world has on society today. People are given the impression that if they are anything larger than a size zero, they are not attractive! This image is killing our teens and young adults and it is time for this to come to light and stop the influence.

      Bonnie Ramsey

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Anorexia effects lots of males too, and no matter how often you see the shocking pics, it's hard to imagine the despair, pain and suffering...thanks for being brave enough to shed some light on the horrific side of human behavior influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority...

    • Michelle Yvette profile image

      Michelle Yvette 

      11 years ago from United States

      This website is very eye opening! You have done a woderful job putting the information out there and how much we need to do about it. This will definitely be something I will have my daughters look at. Good Job!


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